Among the Laguna Blanca School parents attending the Feb. 27 Bacara Resort & Spa benefit for the school are, from left, trustee Hani Zeini and his wife, Amal, a former event chairwoman, and event chairwoman Cynthia McClintock and her husband, Brian. (Gail Arnold / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

More than 300 parents, alumni, faculty, staff and community supporters of Laguna Blanca School reveled in the excitement of Monte Carlo Night last week at Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta.

Thanks to record sponsorship proceeds of more than $200,000, generous auction donors and bidders, and whopping paddle-raisers, the school raised more than $600,000 in net proceeds.

The funds raised by the Feb. 27 benefit will be used in part for tuition assistance. Last year, Laguna Blanca awarded $1.6 million in tuition assistance.

Funds raised also will be used for student programs, the school’s innovative curriculum, faculty professional development and renovations at its campuses in Hope Ranch and Montecito.

While Laguna Blanca supporters excelled at fundraising, they also get high marks for creating and enjoying a glamorous and entertaining evening. Guests were greeted on the ballroom terrace on the balmy evening with tasty hors d’oeuvres, beverages and a photo opportunity in front of a classic 1936 Bugatti Type 57, generously on loan from by Laura and Michael Cleary.

For the cocktail hour, event chairwoman Cynthia McClintock and her committee turned the spacious ballroom foyer into a Monte Carlo-style casino where guests tried their luck at blackjack, roulette and craps tables run by professional dealers. Chips were turned in at the end of the evening for tickets for donated raffle prizes.

Guests marveled at the artwork on display as part of the silent auction. Six pieces created by Laguna Blanca students under the guidance of renowned artist Cassandria Blackmore captivated supporters and collectively fetched $8,000.

Blackmore, a parent of two Laguna Blanca students, is famous for her unconventional approach to reverse painting. She worked hand-in-hand with students in early kindergarten through the fourth grade to create these amazing paintings.

After cocktails, guests sauntered into the opulent Grand Ballroom, where the lighting created a magical, violet hue in the room and the illusion of stars in the sky, while a big screen on stage further set the tone with images of Monte Carlo flashing across the screen.

Guests dined on grilled prime sirloin in red wine sauce with caponata olive old crushed potatoes, and wines donated by the Morello family.

The event’s emcee, Laguna Blanca School trustee Tom Pickett, welcomed the supporters, shared his high praise for Head of School Rob Hereford, and warmed up the crowd for the live auction.

Highlights of the auction, run by auctioneer Zan Aufderheide, included a a week at a six-bedroom luxury villa on Isla Navidad, Mexico, which garnered $17,000; a Grace Kelly piece by acclaimed artist Russell Young (who directed Laguna’s class projects last year) for $16,000; and a Blackmore painting for $15,000. The live and silent auctions were supplemented with an extensive online auction.

Guests were treated to a student-produced video that captured the daily lives of Laguna Blanca students and shared the students’ view of what makes the school great: its sense of community, values and relationships.

The video was produced by students Matthew Goldsholl, Camila Lamere, Luke Smilie and Kylan Tyng. (Scroll down the page for the video.)

The evening’s program concluded with a paddle raise that found a taker at both the $100,000 and $50,000 levels, and many more at more modest levels.

The party continued with many jumping onto the dance floor while others eagerly flocked back to the casino tables.

Laguna Blanca is a private preparatory day school providing education from early kindergarten through 12th grade for approximately 355 students at its Hope Ranch and Montecito campuses. One hundred percent of its students attend college.

Click here for more information about Laguna Blanca School.

Noozhawk contributing writer Gail Arnold can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

YouTube video

(Laguna Tube​ video)